Wearable sensor technology in alpine rescue

In alpine emergency medicine, work is often carried out under extreme climatic conditions. Very low temperatures and strong wind conditions pose particular challenges for mountain rescue teams – especially when it comes to recording vital parameters of injured persons and initiating medical measures as efficiently as possible. In addition to external factors, physical reactions (e.g. hypothermia, circulatory arrest) often make measurements of body temperature and other vital signs unreliable and time-consuming. In a technical feasibility study conducted by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich together with the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service and the Center for Safety and Training (Stiftung Bergwacht), we will therefore examine whether the use of our cosinuss° sensor technology close to the ear for monitoring body temperature and vital signs of alpine casualties is also reliably possible under extreme climatic conditions.

Goal: Sensor-based emergency medicine

The overall goal is the development of a simple, near-ear sensor technology for alpine emergency medicine. In the long term, this solution should also be established in alpine sports and mountaineering.

In the future, the ear sensors could be used to non-invasively, quickly and reliably record the vital signs of injured persons on site and transmit them to the responsible hospital via mobile data transmission. In this way, medically necessary measures could be initiated in a data-supported and much more efficient manner.

Structure and procedure of the study

In order to be able to use our cosinuss° sensor technology in the alpine environment, it must first be clarified whether an ear-based sensor technology is actually suitable for reliably and validly recording vital signs and body temperature in an alpine environment. On the other hand, the question arises whether movement data and vital signs are suitable to characterize performance-physiological aspects of mountaineering in an accurate and medically meaningful way.

To answer the first research question, the in-ear sensor will be tested in the mountain weather room of the Center for Safety and Training at -20°C to +20°C and under different wind conditions (+/- 30km/h) regarding technical validity and suitability in extreme climatic conditions.

In order to answer the second research question, the next step is to record and analyze movement patterns and vital parameters during mountaineering. Pattern recognition algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to analyze the recorded data.

Target groups

The envisaged solution could be helpful in the future not only for emergency doctors, rescue personnel, mountain rescue staff and mountain guides, but also for alpine athletes, (high-altitude) mountaineers, ski mountaineers and alpine associations and clubs.

Support of the research project

The research project is conducted by the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich under the direction of PD Dr. Roman Schniepp. Support is provided by Bergwacht Bayern and the Center for Safety and Training (Stiftung Bergwacht). The study is conducted for scientific and biomedical purposes.

The project can be supported financially under the following link:
https://www.startnext.com/sensortechnologie-und-bergrettung

Outlook: Improving alpine emergency medicine

Through the research project, the initiators expect a significant gain in knowledge that will have an impact on improving alpine (emergency) medicine. Based on the data and insights gained, a sensor-based technology platform can be created that combines modern performance diagnostics and telemedicine.